JOHN PETER


Cypress

Seventeen years ago, the sun so glaring
It paled the eating flame invisibly
I burned love letters under such a tree
Equably, undespairing.

The silence lingered overhead
Tolerant of petty apostasies
Sober funereal trees
As Virgil said.

This other cypress
Menaces the hot shade
Like an old assegai's discoloured blade
Offers its stinging kiss.

No use affecting unconcern
Looking the other way
In this sun-darkened domicile today
Whose letters shall we burn?

JOHN PETER


Christmas on Three Continents

Snow-masked and bell-bewitched the village
Supports a stratus architrave,

-170-

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A Book of South African Verse
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • The Emigrants Introductory Stanzas 1
  • Afar in the Desert 2
  • From the Desolate Valley 5
  • From Stray Memories of Natal and Zululand 7
  • Bridge-Guard in the Karroo 13
  • The Burial 1902 15
  • At Welbedacht 18
  • Resurgat (for C. J. Rhodes) 20
  • A Pagan's Baptism 21
  • Lazarus 21
  • The Black Christ (at Easter in South Africa) 22
  • Lament for a Dead Cow (chant by Xhosa Family on the Death of Wetu, Their Only Cow) 23
  • The Wood-Gatherers 24
  • Milking Kraal 25
  • Jim (an Incident) 26
  • The Councillor 28
  • The Song Maker 29
  • Smoke of the Camp Fire 31
  • From the Flaming Terrapin 33
  • The Serf 37
  • The Zulu Girl 37
  • The Zebras 38
  • From: the Wayzgoose 39
  • On Some South African Novelists 40
  • On the Same 41
  • From a Veld Eclogue: the Pioneers 41
  • Rounding the Cape 43
  • The Sling 44
  • Luis De Camoes 48
  • Dreaming Spires 49
  • The Scorpion 53
  • Namaqualand After Rain 54
  • The Ruined Farm 55
  • The Death of a Zulu 56
  • The Boer War 57
  • The Pioneers: Or, Twenty Years After 57
  • The Explorer 58
  • Johannesburg 58
  • The Victoria Falls 60
  • The Devil-Dancers 61
  • A Traveller's Tale 63
  • A Transvaal Morning 66
  • Sanna 67
  • The Discardment 68
  • Samuel 69
  • To a Small Boy Who Died at Diepkloof Reformatory 71
  • The Poet 72
  • Seed 73
  • From the Luck in the Square Stone 74
  • Recovery from Mental Illness 75
  • From Man's Roots 76
  • From Ultimate Exile 78
  • Marshal Lyautey 80
  • Morocco 81
  • Song 83
  • Durban Revisited 84
  • In Memoriam: Roy Campbell 84
  • From Wind and an Eagle Owl 85
  • Elephant 86
  • Giraffes 87
  • Outside Kimberley 88
  • Cataclysm ('Othello' at Stratford) 90
  • The Oracle of Delphi 91
  • Memling's Virgin with Apple 92
  • A Book for Christmas 94
  • From Lustration of the Winter Tree 95
  • O Theophilus (to Our Helpers) 95
  • For Sheila 97
  • Eurydice 98
  • Reflection 100
  • From the Hours of the Planets 102
  • Delusions VIII 102
  • From Poem by Stages 103
  • The Babiaantje 106
  • In a Province 107
  • False Bay 108
  • Chaka 108
  • The Green Hills of Africa 115
  • The Plains 116
  • The Tribes 118
  • In Africa 119
  • Cactus 120
  • Mantis 121
  • A Flamingo's Egg 121
  • By an Ant-Heap 122
  • Grisaille 123
  • Chameleon 124
  • The Coming 125
  • The Gamblers 126
  • The Explorer 127
  • The Pilgrims 129
  • From the Great Divide 131
  • Cheetah 136
  • The Vanquished 137
  • Meeting 138
  • Arrival and Departure 139
  • Cape Coloured Batman 140
  • Stranger to Europe 142
  • Myths 143
  • David 145
  • Pieta 146
  • Home Thoughts 147
  • Fruit 152
  • Honey 152
  • Fundisi 153
  • The Floating Island 154
  • Seven South African Poems 156
  • From a Voyage to Africa 162
  • Reading Tolstoy 169
  • Cypress 170
  • Christmas on Three Continents 170
  • Estrangement 171
  • Heart's Desire 174
  • Sight 175
  • Victoria Dancing 176
  • The Body's Eye 177
  • Child of the Long Grass 179
  • Majuba Hill 180
  • The Settler 181
  • From the Man of Grass 183
  • Senchi Ferry: Gold Coast 187
  • The Desert Travellers 188
  • 14 July 1956 190
  • The Hawk 191
  • The Sleeper 192
  • Of Thomas Traherne and the Pebble Outside 193
  • Within 194
  • The Sea and the Eagle 195
  • Roy Kloof 196
  • Roy Kloof Went Riding 196
  • The Situation 198
  • Trooper Temple Pulvermacher 198
  • In Loco 200
  • Afrikaans Homestead 201
  • At the Grave of Cecil Rhodes 202
  • Great Zimbabwe 203
  • Dombashawa 204
  • Sources of the Poems 207
  • Biographical Notes 211
  • Index of Authors 223
  • Index of Titles and First Lines 224
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